Capetonians brave rainy weather to commiserate with Tutu’s family
Capetonians of all ages braved the rain to write messages in a condolences book for the late Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu at the St George’s Cathedral on Monday.
Many had remarkable stories of their encounters with The Arch, as Tutu was affectionately known. Ellie Shortall hung a board with Tutu’s face, among bouquets of flowers, which she said had “wonderful” history.
“A few years ago, there was a peace march in Desmond Tutu’s name and legacy in Green Point and we all there to march in unity. That board was part of it,” she said.
“I kept it in mind of when he dies to put it out to remember him.”
Shortall said without Tutu’s contribution to SA’s freedom, she might not have had her baby.
“I call my child a rainbow baby because we are a mixed couple,” she said.
“I was thinking yesterday that many years ago during apartheid we wouldn't have been able to love each other, marry and have a baby. We would have done it in secrecy or would never have had an opportunity to fall in love.”
Joan Shippey, 79, was teary-eyed when she placed her flowers among a pile of others.
“I worked with the Archbishop on the Cape Town interfaith initiative,” she said, her voice shaky.
“We were together in 1999 at the parliament of the world religions with the Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela.”
Shippey said Tutu’s laughter touched her. She was part of the security team during the parliament of the world religions.
“He was a very special man,” she said.
“I told my daughter that being in the security detail with the army and police during the parliament of the world religions, we were protecting Mandela, the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu. It was in Cape Town because we had recently won our freedom from apartheid. They brought it here almost as a celebration. What I remember about The Arch is that he kept saying to us: ‘Have you found a bomb yet’?’ We had dogs and were searching the Good Hope Centre.”
In a message the Van Eck family said it “remembers with love the role played by The Arch at the funeral of our beloved husband and father, Jan Van Eck, on February 5 2009.”
The family thanked Tutu for holding government to account.
“Thank you for what you have meant to our beloved country and for always speaking truth to power,” their message reads.
“You have taught us so much through your shining example but, above all, you have taught us Ubuntu and forgiveness. Your race has been well run and we will feel the void of your departure for many, many years to come. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all that. May your beautiful soul rest in eternal peace.”
Inside the cathedral, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba revealed plans for Tutu’s funeral which will take place on New Year’s Day. Makgoba said the cathedral was called the “People’s Cathedral” in the struggle years.
“The Archbishop Emeritus will lie in state on Friday, and the public will be given an opportunity to file past his coffin, which will reflect the simplicity with which he asked to be buried,” said Makgoba.
“We will accommodate as many people as we can in the hours available. Outside the cathedral, the City of Cape Town has laid out condolence books and places to leave flowers. Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s remains will lie overnight, alone, in the cathedral he loved.
“The national and local governments are being extraordinarily helpful with the arrangements, and further details will no doubt be announced in the next day or two. There has not been time to complete our consultations with them on their involvement.”
Makgoba said Tutu’s funeral service will be an Anglican Requiem Mass, “as Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu wanted”.
“The preacher will be Bishop Michael Nuttall, the retired Bishop of KwaZulu-Natal, who was Dean of the Anglican Church in Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s time,” said Makgoba.
“In that position he became known as ‘Number Two to Tutu’, and they formed an exceptionally close relationship, which in the 1980s modelled how a white leader could work for and closely with a black leader. The choir will be the renowned Johannesburg choir he loved, Imilonji Kantu Choral Society, whose contribution may have to be streamed in.”
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